Large Marge from “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”

The entire plot of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, an early Tim Burton gem, could be read as an ode to transportation. Pee-Wee engages in an epic quest to find his lost bicycle and on a dark and foggy night, enters the cab of Large Marge (played by the late Alice Nunn). She tells Pee-Wee a tale dating back ten years, when she saw an accident that sounded “like a garbage truck dropped off the Empire State Building.” The scene only gets more Twilight Zone from there. As Pee-Wee exits the cab, she yells the words that have since haunted many a viewer: “Be sure an’ tell ’em Large Marge sent ya’!”

“Thelma and Louise”

Hollywood depictions of independent female travelers historically have been lacking, but Thelma and Louise, starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis became a feminist icon, partially thanks to its trucker scene. On the road, they encounter a lewd, catcalling trucker. They pull over and demand an apology, but he refuses, at which point they take aim at the fuel tanker he’s driving and cause an epic explosion.

“Over the Top”

Answering America’s call for a movie about truckers and arm wrestling, Sylvester Stallone took what he learned from Rocky and applied it (he co-wrote the screenplay) to 1987’s Over the Top. Stallone plays Lincoln Hawk, a trucker down on his luck who takes on arm wrestling as a noble side hustle to help earn money as he rebuilds his life (and his relationship with his estranged son, naturally). Hawk competes in the World Armwrestling Championship in Las Vegas with the hopes of landing a grand prize of $100,000 and a brand-new semi. He’s an underdog and… well, we won’t spoil the ending.

Other honorable mention trucker flicks to add to your queue

“Convoy” Inspired by a country song, this 1978 movie stars  Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, Ernest Borgnine, Franklyn Ajaye and Burt Young, and represents the apex of the CB radio heyday.

“Breaker! Breaker” Chuck Norris couldn’t resist the trucker genre or a plot that revolves around allegations of corruption in the industry.

The strange trend of primate sidekicks

The open road can get lonely, so it only makes sense that there are furry Robins to a trucker’s Batman. Consider the 1978 classic Every Which Way but Loose featuring Clyde, the orangutan, who stars alongside Clint Eastwood. Clyde, played by Manis the orangutan did *not* return for the 1980 sequel, Any Which Way You Can, as he had grown too much between films, according to IMDB. (The part was shared by two different orangutans.)

And don’t forget Bear Bryant, the chimpanzee named for the University of Alabama football coach, who rode along in Greg Evigan’s truck in the 1979 television show BJ and the Bear. The show has since inspired references in everything from Breaking Bad to South Park.

Trucker anthems

As author Finn Murphy pointed out, many truckers are very well-versed in audiobooks and podcasts, but there’s also a canon of trucker playlists on Spotify. Here are some jams you may want to add to your own playlist:

I’ve Been Everywhere,  Johnny Cash
Pickup Truck Cafe, Brenn Hill
Brothers of the Highway,  Tony Justice and Aaron Tippin
Truckin’  Grateful Dead
Driving my Life Away, Eddie Rabbits
On the Road Again  Willie Nelson
That Ain’t My Truck  Rhett Akins
Take Me Home, Country Roads  John Denver
Roll on 18 Wheeler   Alabama
East Bound and Down    Jerry Reed
Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses  Kathy Mattea
Asphalt Cowboy  Jason Aldean
Big Wheels in the Moonlight  Dan Seals

And because we’re on the internet

We leave you with Peanut the Trucker Cat:

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